2 Aug 2013

Pharmac to stick with new diabetes meters

9:18 pm on 2 August 2013

Pharmac has defended its hotly-debated change to a new brand of diabetes meters and says it will continue.

The Government's drug-buying agency says more than 100,000 New Zealanders now have the new meters and they meet international standards.

Last year Pharmac decided to change subsidies for the blood glucose testing meters used by those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, switching from three or four suppliers to a sole supplier, Pharmaco, and its CareSens range.

It began implementing the change to three CareSens meters from September, saving $10 million, but some users have complained that they are unreliable.

Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz says of the more than 100,000 meters distributed, about 300 have been returned because of concerns about their performance.

He says none of those that had further testing was found to measure blood glucose incorrectly, and only 30 were faulty because of problems like cracked screens and stuck buttons.

"These are very good meters and perform really well, in line with all of the standards that they're required to meet."

Mr Crausaz says safety regulator Medsafe has received 38 incident reports about the meters and investigated 26. None indicated the meters were giving faulty readings.

He says support will continue to be available for those using the new meters, which he says meet international standards for accuracy.

He says support will continue to be available for those using the new meters.

"First stop go to your health professional, ideally your pharmacy first - or perhaps the doctor - to talk through those concerns and to have the meter tested and consider whether they want to swap that out for a new one, if they're concerned about its accuracy or reliability."

Meters inaccurate - mother

A woman whose son has type 1 diabetes says Pharmac is wrong in insisting the new meters are accurate.

Helen Lockely, of New Plymouth, says that's not her experience of the new meter.

"People are now having symptoms of hypoglycemia at around five or six - which is in the normal range. Before, people weren't getting hypoglycemia symptoms until four on their old meters - which is where it's supposed to be."

The Diabetes New Zealand patient group says it's received more positive than negative feedback about the new meters but anyone with concerns should seek help.